Blog history


December 2021 -Success Story

A local trucking company started with coverage for one employee, but had such success with the plan and service, that they expanded to 7 enrolled and 11 covered. And at renewal this year, our team was able to use alternate funding strategies to save them $1000 per month vs standard options.

This option also gives them the chance to get money back at the end of the year! They had this to say about FocusHRO:

"Overall, I would never be able to provide our staff with health insurance without you. It is a very intimidating topic to approach. Between Jeff and Jess helping me, I feel confident in the insurance that I am able to offer our staff."


HR Tidbit - HR Professional

November 10, 2021

How To Become A Better HR/Personnel Manager

First, it takes a person who likes people and someone who likes to help others; to be a Human Resource Manager. You must also have extensive knowledge and experience in the field to be an effective professional in HR Management.

Some Tips For Becoming a better HR Manager:

  • Focus on the Big Picture - Bring qualified workers onboard and continue to offer recognition, review and growth opportunities to achieve retention of good workers.
  • Maintain Your Passion- Your own drive will inspire the people you’re trying to recruit, as well the current workers in the organization.
  • Maintain Communication- Communicate with the employees not only when they are facing transitions, but on a day-to-day basis, too.
  • Visit Them At Their Job Area - The employees will appreciate a more human contact. Get out of your office and show up at their job station. This is what HR management is all about.
  • Personalize Employees - Personalization is the key to effective human resources management. When you’re communicating with someone from the staff, it’s important to take their preferences, personality, age, and goals into consideration.
  • Collaborate With All Departments - You have a responsibility to choose and support the right workers for each department. Work closely with the managers to develop appropriate HR ideas and practices that meets the individual needs of the department.
  • Create A Mentor Program - Through the process of mentoring, a newly acquired worker gets proper guidance for personal and professional development. They learn how to do their job well and it should be a clear program based on plans and goals.
  • Flexibility - Studies show that flexible HR practice and employee behavioral flexibility has a positive effect on adapting strong cultures.
  • Technology - You have to stay on top of new technologies, so you’ll keep improving your effectiveness as a HR manager
  • Know your Vision - organizations with strong culture adaptability had higher organizational commitment.
Following these tips will help you become a better HR Manager!

HR Tidbit - Refusals of Work

October 20, 2021

Information on Refusals of Work from the Department of Labor & Industry

Office of Unemployment Compensation (UC) Benefits. Notice to Employers:

With the introduction of the new Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation System, employers may be searching for a way to report refusals of work. The system does not currently have a designated area where employers can easily make these reports.

Employers are encouraged to continue to use the UC-1921W Online Form. This form can be submitted directly through the PA UC website, or employers can email completed forms to Please only use one method and do not send multiple reports for the same incident.

A refusal of suitable work issue arises under the following circumstances:

  • An employer offers work to an individual who is NOT already employed by the employer, and the individual refuses the offer.
  • An employee refuses a recall to work after an indefinite lay-off from the employer.
  • An individual discourages being hired, during the interview process
  • PA CareerLink® refers an individual to an employer and the individual refuses or fails to report for the interview.
Employers should NOT report the following issues using the UC-1921W Online Form:

  • Call-offs/Absent Hours/PTO/Limited Availability
  • No-Show for Shifts
  • Voluntary Quits or Discharge
  • Declined assignments if the individual is still considered employed by the agency
  • Reasonable Assurance for School Claims
  • Any other potential issues involving a current employee or an individual considered, by the employer, to still be employed

HR Tidbit - New Hire Reporting

September 22, 2021

Pennsylvania New Hire Reporting

New hire reporting is a process by which employers submit information about their newly-hired and rehired workers to a state directory for crossmatching open child support cases, locating non-custodial parents who change jobs frequently, and reducing fraudulent overpayments in state benefit programs such as unemployment and worker's compensation program.

Employers must report their new hires to the New Hire Reporting Program within twenty (20) days of the Date of Hire. This includes newly hired employees or a former employees returning from a layoff, rehired following termination, rehired following a separation, or returning from a requested leave of absence without pay greater than 30 days. Employers can report their new hires on the Pa Career Link website. There are options for reporting New Hires with or without you having a registered account. You may register for an account if you choose. If you do not have a registered account you can report the new hires manually. You can report up to three new hires at a time with the manual entry.

  1. Go to
  2. Go to Report New Hire
  3. Click on Manual Reporting
This is a four- step process in the PA Career link system

To complete the reporting you will need the following information available :

Employer Information

  • Employer FEIN Number (Hyphens are not needed when entering number)
  • (Federal Employer Tax Identification Number) provided must match that reported in Box 10 of the New Hire Employee’s Internal Revenue Service Form W4 (Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate)
  • Employer Name
  • Employer Address - City, State, Zip Code

New Hire Point of Contact Information (Who is requesting information at company)

  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Phone
New Hire Information

  • Social Security Number Hyphens are NOT needed when entering SSN
  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Address - City, State, and Zip
  • Date of Birth
  • Date of Hire
  • State of Hire
Once you are in the system, the first screen will be the employer/point of contact screen, once you have this information entered click on continue. The next screen will be the employee information screen, enter employee information and click on add employee, on the next screen there will be a screen that shows the employee information for you to review. If you have additional employees to add, click on add employee, if you do not have any other new hires to add, scroll down to the security question and put in answer. (This verifies that you are a human). Once questioned is answered, click on submit New Hires. You will receive a confirmation page for your records with a time and date stamp. Keep this confirmation in the employee personnel file for future reference.

There is a video on the PA Career Link website for you to view if you need additional information.

Employee Retention

August 18, 2021

Employee Retention

Retaining skilled employees is vital to the success of a business. A high rate of employee turnover can result in a loss of knowledge and skills and can negatively impact a company’s bottom line. The cost of losing an employee includes not only lost productivity, but also the expense of recruiting, selecting, and training a new employee.


  • Compensation
  • Employee Recognition
  • Challenging and fulfilling job responsibilities
  • Positive relationships with immediate supervisors and coworkers
  • Employee Training
  • Good leadership
  • Structured Orientation Program For New Employees
  • Mentoring
  • Benefits

  • Acknowledge and reward your employees’ contributions
  • Maintain a fair and competitive compensation package (internal and external market)
  • Provide an Open- Door communication policy and encourage new ideas
  • Provide training programs and mentoring to enhance skills development, learning, and career growth
  • Provide employee assistance, wellness, and health programs
  • Offer flexible work arrangements, such as varied hours and the possibility of telecommuting to support work-life balance
  • Provide promotion and leadership opportunities
To get an understanding of the employee’s job satisfaction and work environment you may want to conduct an Employee Attitude Survey. This survey will allow workers to give confidential feedback about their job satisfaction, and suggestions for how the work environment may be improved. To foster a relationship of integrity and trust among company employees, survey results should be communicated effectively and acted upon promptly.

Employee Attitude Surveys

Surveys can be conducted in a variety of ways--a paper questionnaire, on-line employees’ survey, or by hiring a third party to do all the survey work for you. Regardless of the method used, you should review and analyze survey data. Survey results can provide you with key information on how to improve workplace processes, policies, and morale to retain existing staff and attract new employees.


Employee attitude surveys can bring many benefits to organizations that include:

  • Opportunity to facilitate a company’s development and organizational change
  • Opportunity to focus on the company’s specific needs or gaps in service or training
  • Opportunity to focus on the company’s needs and leverage its strengths
  • Informs the company on which actions will create problems for the employee
  • Provides management with employee feedback on company morale and provides employee feedback (both positive and negative) on the internal health of the company
  • Measures the impact of current programs, policies and procedures
  • Provides information on how to motivate employees and improve job satisfaction

  • Employee Satisfaction
  • Creativity
  • Obtaining Results
  • Adaptability
  • Strategic Leadership
  • Analytical Thinking
  • Functional Expertise
  • Employee Compensation- Is it competitive with market data?
  • Human Resource Department Services
  • Communication with employees and management ability to listen
  • Mentoring
  • Senior Management
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Teamwork
  • Professional development opportunities (promotions)
  • Training opportunities
  • Benefits
  • Workplace Flexibility
  • Customer Service
  • Employee’s career plan
  • Source of employee’s stress


You should develop a questionnaire that meets the needs of your company. Typically surveys contain items that are rated on a 5 point scale. These items may be developed to measure different dimensions of the organization (e.g., communication, teamwork, leadership, initiative, management, compensation, ...). Questionnaires also typically include one or more open-ended questions to solicit written feedback.

Questionnaires typically include from 50 to 100 items. When estimating the amount of time to complete the questionnaire you should estimate about 1 minute per questionnaire item.

Sample Questions :

  • [Company] does a good job communicating information about changes that may affect employees
  • [Company] has a clear corporate "culture" and values
  • [Company] has a strong focus on the customer service and satisfaction
  • [Company] is a catalyst of change and innovation
  • [Company] makes good use of my skills and abilities
  • [Company] offers career paths in my job
  • [Company] offers me the necessary training to do my job well
  • [Company] offers real opportunities to improve my skills
  • [Company] offers technology to meet my needs and those of my customers


Steps must be taken to ensure the confidentiality of the feedback results. For example, the feedback ratings from several employees should be combined (averaged) to mask the identity of an individual employee. Comments or written answers to questions may be summarized in the results to mask the identity of the author. The confidentiality helps ensure that the results are genuine.


Basic data analysis would include averages of ratings. Types of analyses include: Performance Dimension Summary; Summary-Performance vs. Expected; Individual Item Ratings; Item Ratings-Performance vs. Expected (normed); Highest- or Lowest-Rated Items (shows individual's strengths and weaknesses); Group & Organizational Ranking, and Recommendations for Development.

You may want to analyze the data by organizational division or department to assess group and organizational strengths and weaknesses. This can be used to support or promote training and organizational development.

Examine data through written interpretive reports, which summarize the results of your study.

Feedback results should be shared with the employees.

The most important step in this process is Acting on Employee feedback and communicating to the employees what actions management has taken or is in the process based on the feedback received.

Another item that can increase retention is a Health & Wellness Program.


A company health and wellness program refers to activities or initiatives undertaken in the workplace that are designed to support employees’ general health and well-being. Programs will often differ from business to business in terms of the range of initiatives offered.

Health and Wellness Initiatives

  • Providing Group Health Insurance to Employees
  • Providing Dental Insurance to Employees
  • Providing Vision Insurance to Employees
  • Providing healthier foods in the workplace, including snacks
  • Providing desk chairs that are ergonomically designed to support the back
  • Empowering employees to include physical activity in their working day, such as by encouraging walking at lunch
  • Providing incentives such as subsidized memberships to local health clubs
  • Offering Incentives for Healthier Habits (Weight Loss, Smoking Cessation)
  • Offering Health Testing and Incentives to improve Test Levels
  • Providing flexible work hours
  • Providing filtered water
  • Regularly having your air-conditioning and heating systems checked and maintained
  • Provide Health & Fitness Webinars
  • Hold Health Fairs at Workplace
  • Proper Disinfection of work areas
  • Health & Wellness Newsletter
  • Providing access to Employee Assistance Programs
Wellness programs are subject to certain federal requirements. For additional information on these requirements go to the Department of Labor website at

HR Tidbit - Unemployment Fraud

July 29, 2021

Unemployment Fraud (via the Pennsylvania Department ofLabor and Industry):

Fraudulent claims filed via identity theft are on the rise nationally in an unprecedented way. Here are some warning signs that a fraudulent unemployment claim was filed involving you or your company:

  • You receive paperwork/notice for an employee who never worked for you. We hear employers say: “I don’t know why this person would have entered me as their employer. I never heard of this person.” The answer is: because it probably wasn’t a person. It was probably a robot filing multiple claims at a time and choosing random Pennsylvania employers. Mark “Never worked here” on the form and send it back to us per the enclosed instructions.
  • You receive paperwork/notice for an employee who is fully employed by you. Talk to the employee to ask if he/she opened a claim. Most times, they have no idea this is happening and are unaware that their identity is being used by a fraudster. If they did not file the unemployment claim, instruct the employee to report the fraud to us on our website. We recently updated our fraud reporting links:
  • You receive paperwork for yourself. Your identity was stolen and you should report the fraud to us using the appropriate method as mentioned, above.
If you do receive paperwork, it does not necessarily mean that payments have or will be made on that claim. Regardless, it is important for you to report it to us as soon as possible. In the end, you will not be charged for benefits paid to fraudsters through identity theft. If payments are not stopped upfront, then there will be an overpayment set up when the situation is investigated. As always, overpayments credit your account and you are not charged for benefits which were overpaid.


In addition to the original information about fraud which we sent in April and June (above), we have other helpful tips for employers to expedite the process to respond regarding fraudulent claims and help the department combat fraud. We recognize that you are receiving abnormally large amount of these as a result of fraudsters filing claims. The department is soon implementing identification software to help alleviate this issue. Meanwhile, here is some information to assist:

  • When an employer responds to the notice of claim filed, the Department does not need any of the person’s real employment information for identity theft situations. We are just looking for a response that tells us the claim is fraudulent and should not have been opened. The fields do not need to be completed unless the system requires it (like start & end date, termination date), and when that happens, you can just enter the current date. Do not spend time researching actual hire dates because this is not a real claim.
  • The one field you should accurately complete is the reason for separation. For identity theft claims, you should enter the reason for separation as “Still working full-time.” When the system receives the response, it will create an issue on the claim which will prevent payment if it is not already being prevented by some other reason.
  • If you are able to log in to the new benefits system, here are the steps to submit your responses: Reporting Fraud - BenMod. From the Unemployment Services widget, click “More Unemployment Services” and then the “Notice of Separation” link. Choose the Claimants tab. After locating the individual for whom you wish to report, click on the “Needs Response” link.
  • If you are not able to log into the new benefits system yet, you can respond using SIDES e-response if you are enrolled in SIDES. Here are the steps: Reporting Fraud - SIDES
  • Employers who hired a Third-Party Administrator (TPA) to handle unemployment matters can disregard any Notices of Application. Your TPA should be handling these for you.
Other facts:

  • Appealing the financial determination is not the appropriate way to report a fraudulent claim to us, and it’s inundating our monetary appeals staff. Please do not appeal these determinations; use the above steps to report the fraud to us.
  • As the employer, you should simply respond to the claim notices but not also file a fraud report using our web site’s “Report Fraud” link. The individual affected should use the “Report Fraud” link to file a report.
  • If a payment has already been made on that claim, payments will continue every other week until a staff member is able to deny the claim.

HR Tidbit - Attracting younger workers

July 13, 2021

Attracting Younger Workers to your Workplace

In today’s society there are several factors that guide millennials in the workplace. They want to be happier than their parents, find more purposeful work and work with better companies. Millennials also want their employers to align with their personal values.

Vacation and sick time are important, but an even bigger lure for young workers is flexible work time. Millennials want to work from home, design their own 40-hour workweek, or have the ability to purchase additional time off. Millennial motivation is also driven by health-care and retirement packages.

4 Ideas To Attracting Younger Workers:

  1. Create a thriving corporate culture - A thriving culture allows for creativity and innovation in every corner of the company, because the core values are clear and decisions can be made that always honor those values first.
  2. Employee Benefits – Provide competitive employee benefit packages.
  3. Mentorship – Provide guidance by an experienced employee in the company
  4. Use unconventional recruitment tools - Put your creative challenges where your ideal candidates will see them, including job ads, billboards, websites, wrap on company cars or whatever – then enjoy the flow of quality qualified candidates they generate.

HR Tidbit - Remote Work

June 29, 2021

Making the Remote Workplace Productive and Engaging for Your Employees

The pandemic pushed many organizations to become fully remote, and the experience has been better than many imagined. As a result, a hybrid working model that embraces the best of both remote and office-based work awaits many workers and companies on the other side of the crisis. In a recent Gartner poll, 90% of HR leaders said employees would be allowed to work remotely even once COVID-19 vaccines are widely available.

Remote work and flexible work arrangements are also expected to grow in the next decade. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 73 percent of teams will have remote employees by 2028.

Most organizations have had months to work on remote-work experience to keep employees productive and engaged, but many still viewed remote set-ups as temporary.

Although in-office employees may consider remote options to be the ultimate job perk, there are challenges in working away from the office. This can include sometimes feeling disconnected from the team and wanting to connect and communicate with co-workers more frequently.

Creating an inclusive work environment that is also mindful of your organization’s remote workforce effectively keeps all employees engaged and connected.

One of the ways companies can counter these challenges is to reach out to employees more often and reinforce they are an important part of the company and listen to feedback from employees.

  1. Employers should use both direct conversations and indirect observations to get visibility into employees’ challenges and concerns. Use every opportunity to make clear to employees that you support and care for them.
  2. Employers should make sure that their employees have the technology they need to be successful, which may be more than just a mobile phone and laptop. Be certain the employees know how to operate with virtual communications and are comfortable in that environment.
  3. Employers should promote dialogue. Two-way dialogue between managers and employees ensures that communication efforts help, rather than hurt, employee engagement. Two-way communication with managers and peers provides employees with the information and perspective they need to enable them to express and process negative emotions and feel more in control. Managers can create opportunities for two-way dialogues that focus on a realistic picture of both the positive and negative implications of the current COVID-19 outbreak.
  4. Employers should trust their employees and suspend any disbelief they may have and put the utmost trust and confidence in your employees that they will do the right thing.
  5. Employers should reinforce organizational values and show their employees that they are key stakeholders while showing them that you are looking out for them for the long haul. Continue to model the right behaviors — and encourage employees to call out unethical conduct. Remind employees of the channels for reporting misconduct and highlight punitive measures for noncompliance.
  6. Employers should create clarity since role definitions may start to fall apart during the disruption, leaving employees unsure of where to focus. Focus on what employees should be accomplishing. Emphasize objectives over processes to create greater clarity for employees — and drive greater engagement levels.
  7. Employers should focus on outputs not the processes. In the remote workplace many people are juggling work and family commitments in their own homes, and enable them to complete their work in ways that are easiest and most productive for them. Do not pay attention to the process and pay more attention to what they are getting done. Provide flexibility for them to complete their assignments in their own way. Schedule meetings for a mutually agreeable time where all team members can meet virtually.
  8. Employers should increase recognition of their employees. Effective recognition not only motivates the recipient but serves as a strong signal to other employees of behaviors they should exhibit. Employers should recognize and thank the employee as well as share the accomplishment with other team members.
  9. Employers should encourage innovation but with the high levels of uncertainty, employees may become more risk-adverse. They are afraid to try something new, but during these times risk taking becomes even more important for employee engagement and organizational success. Employers should highlight the value of employees’ continuing to scale their activities, and ensure that any risks they are taking are worthwhile.
Adapting to this new working model might seem straightforward in theory, but it will prove more difficult in practice, especially when it comes to organizational culture.

Company culture is a primary concern for many leaders. Cultural beliefs and norms are more open to change since they are not being guided by company systems and routines and are subject to influence from new, non-work factors that are present in employees’ day-to-day lives.
Company must recognize that the work culture is evolving despite being remote and that they need to invest a substantial amount of time and energy into keeping their cultures on track or steering them in a new direction.

Companies that are adapting well to this remote work experience have invested in recreating processes that align with their desired cultures. Research shows that our ability to connect meaningfully to others is less satisfying when we're not physically present and that shared understanding is harder to establish and more likely to suffer from "drift" as we spend time apart.

Historically, office settings and interactions have been key signals of culture, which is often built and reflected in the way people behave and dress and reinforced by physical settings, from open office spaces with ping pong tables to traditional offices with wood paneling and leather chairs.

Many leaders are confused when it comes to creating and directing culture when employees are far-flung. The employer must realize that the culture can no longer be duplicated in the same way it was in an office-controlled model.

Leaders need to decide on the type of culture they want, the signals that are appropriate to communicate it, and how and when to send them without distortion.

A Future Forum study of knowledge workers across six major countries found that the vast majority value flexibility — while only 16% want to be fully remote, only 12% want to return to working in the office five days a week. A clear majority of 72% want the option of working within a hybrid remote-office model. This reduces commute time and costs and provides a work-life balance.

Leaders need to start thinking now about how they want to "re-enter" the office environment. How might we reimagine the office to reinforce culture in new, better ways? More importantly, how do we ensure an even distribution of culture across those in the office and those working remotely? One of the greatest risks with hybrid work is the potential for employees to have different and incompatible understandings of the company culture.

HR Tidbit - Mental Health

June 14, 2021

How do you support employees' mental health?

An employee’s mental health includes how they think, feel and act, and includes their emotional and social well-being. An employee’s mental health can change over time, depending on factors such as their workload, stress and work-life balance.

1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness annually, and a recent study by Deloitte revealed that less than half receive treatment. A study from the Mental Health in the Workplace Summit also found that mental illness is the leading cause of disability for U.S. adults aged 15 to 44 and that more workdays are lost to mental health-related absenteeism than any other injury or illness.

Employers can expect that employees in their organizations are experiencing mental health challenges or mental illness and therefore employers need to create a culture that supports employees’ mental health.

Ideas For Creating a Supportive Work Culture

  • Promote Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace
  • Offer Flexible Scheduling
  • Address Workplace Stress
  • Evaluate Your Benefits Offering
  • Provide Mental Health Training for Managers
Want more help? Check out Support+ from FocusHRO. On demand help from HR professionals, and the resources you need to be successful. Visit to learn more.

Support+ -- Your Partner in HR

HR Tidbit - COVID and OSHA

June 1, 2021

The Roles of Employers and Workers in Responding to COVID-19

Under the OSH Act, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm.

Implementing a workplace COVID-19 prevention program is the most effective way to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at work.

The most effective COVID-19 prevention programs engage workers and their representatives in the program's development and implementation at every step, and include the following elements:

  1. Assignment of a workplace coordinator
  2. Identification of where and how workers might be exposed to COVID-19 at work.
  3. Identification of a combination of measures that will limit the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, in line with the principles of the hierarchy of controls.
    1. eliminating the hazard by separating and sending home infected or potentially infected people from the workplace;
    2. implementing physical distancing in all communal work areas [includes remote work and telework];
    3. installing barriers where physical distancing cannot be maintained;
    4. suppressing the spread of the hazard using face coverings;
    5. improving ventilation;
    6. using applicable PPE to protect workers from exposure;
    7. providing the supplies necessary for good hygiene practices; and
    8. performing routine cleaning and disinfection.
  4. Consideration of protections for workers at higher risk for severe illness through supportive policies and practices. Older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions.
  5. Establishment of a system for communicating effectively with workers and in a language they understand.
  6. Educate and train workers on your COVID-19 policies and procedures using accessible formats and in a language they understand.
  7. Instruct workers who are infected or potentially infected to stay home and isolate or quarantine.
  8. Minimize the negative impact of quarantine and isolation on workers.
  9. Isolating workers who show symptoms at work.
  10. Providing guidance on screening and testing:
  11. Recording and reporting COVID-19 infections and deaths:
  12. Implementing protections from retaliation and setting up an anonymous process for workers to voice concerns about COVID-19-related hazards:
  13. Making a COVID-19 vaccine or vaccination series available at no cost to all eligible employees.
  14. Not distinguishing between workers who are vaccinated and those who are not:
  15. Other applicable OSHA Standards: All of OSHA's standards that apply to protecting workers from infection remain in place.

Workers who have or likely have been exposed to COVID-19 should quarantine until they meet CDC guidelines for exiting quarantine.

More guidelines can be found on

Want more help? Check out Support+ from FocusHRO. On demand help from HR professionals, and the resources you need to be successful. Visit to learn more.

Support+ -- Your Partner in HR

HR Tidbit - Vaccinations

May 12, 2021

Covering information and employer questions regarding COVID-19 vaccinations:

Can I mandate my employees be vaccinated?
Can I ask my employees about their vaccination status?
How should I handle objections to the vaccine?
Information on President Biden's paid leave tax credit

Want more help? Check out Support+ from FocusHRO. On demand help from HR professionals, and the resources you need to be successful. Visit to learn more

Meeting with Clipboard

Employees Refusing Suitable Work

April 27, 2021

From the department of Labor and Industry:

If you have individuals refusing suitable work and claiming unemployment benefits, you must report that on either the paperwork we send to you or on our webform created for this purpose:

Please keep in mind that we are experiencing historically high volumes of work and requests. If you report an eligibility issue to us, you may not receive an outcome for a period of time. It does not mean we did not receive your request or that we will not work on it as soon as we can, so please do not send second or third requests. Duplicate requests only tie up resources more and prevent us from better serving you and other employers.

For more information on situations where claimants may refuse work and still be granted benefits, visit:

Vaccination Tax Credit

April 22, 2021

President Joe Biden has announced a paid leave tax credit to employers that provide full pay for any employee who takes time off to get a COVID-19 vaccination. The tax credit is available to organizations with fewer than 500 employees, and it also provides full pay for employees who take time to recover from the vaccination. The credit covers up to $511 per day for each vaccinated employee and is funded by the American Rescue Plan.

Nearly half of all private-sector employers in the U.S. will be eligible for the tax credit. Employers also can review more details about the tax credit from the U.S. Department of the Treasury at


Legal Notice

The American Rescue Plan ACT of 2021
- Important Legal Notice

March 23, 2021

President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Act (ARPA) into law on March 11, 2021. The package includes several provisions of interest to employers.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Extended

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefit remains at $300.00 per week through Sept. 6, 2021. This increases the total number of weeks from 50-79 weeks for individuals that do not qualify for regular benefits.

There are no changes to eligibility for individuals that do not qualify for state unemployment benefits (ex. Self-employed, gig workers, and others in non- traditional employment).

The act also extends the CARES benefits to individuals that exhausted benefits to September 6, 2021 from 24 weeks up to 53 weeks.

Federal payments to nonprofits and government agencies increases from 50%-75% after March 31, 2021 through September 6, 2021 for the cost of providing unemployment benefits.


The act now provides for 100 % subsidy of premiums for eligible COBRA recipients for continuation coverage if they lose their job through involuntary termination. Employers may claim a refundable tax credit against their Medicare payroll tax liability for the cost of the premiums. The assistance is available through Sept. 30, 2021, and is no longer available once an individual becomes eligible for coverage under another group health plan or Medicare.

Qualified Beneficiaries are required to notify their group health plan if they become eligible for other coverage during the subsidy period, if they fail to do so they could be liable for a $250.00 penalty, which may be waived if the failure was due to reasonable cause and not willful neglect. An intentional failure can result in a penalty of $250 or 110% of the amount of premium assistance received, if greater.

The federal government's subsidy for COBRA coverage premiums that ex-employees would otherwise be required to pay will:

    • Begin on April 1, 2021.
    • End on Sept. 30, 2021.
Only assistance eligible individuals (AEIs) qualify for a subsidy, and this excludes employees who voluntarily end their employment.

The definition of an AEI: Someone who, in the time period between April 1, 2021 and Sept. 30, 2021, is eligible for COBRA coverage due to an involuntary termination (other than for gross misconduct) or a reduction in hours and elects coverage. An AEI no longer is eligible for a subsidy upon the earliest date of his or her becoming eligible for other group health plan coverage (that is not an excepted benefit) or Medicare or the expiration of his or her maximum COBRA period.

Under the ARPA, employers could give laid-off employees up to 90 days (following COBRA-notice receipt) to elect to enroll in a different group health plan offered by their employer. The premium for the alternative coverage choice cannot be higher than the premium for the plan in which the employee had been enrolled, among other restrictions.

This could be a huge relief to affected employees or covered relatives, assisting them financially, eliminating the burden of searching for new plans and understanding the ins and outs of a new plan.

Under the ARPA, a terminated worker who is eligible for assistance and who has not elected COBRA coverage by April 1, or who elected COBRA coverage but then discontinued it, may elect COBRA coverage during a special enrollment period starting April 1 and ending 60 days after the date on which the COBRA notification was delivered.

These individuals may receive the subsidy on a prospective basis without having to elect and pay for COBRA retroactively for months prior to the subsidy becoming available.

Employers will have to include information about the availability of the subsidy and the special 60-day enrollment period for qualified beneficiaries in their COBRA Notices by May 30, 2021. The information may be added to current COBRA notices or be provided in a separate document.

COBRA notice forms, either as amended or as a separate document, must include:

    • The forms necessary for establishing eligibility for COBRA premium assistance.
    • The name, address and telephone number necessary to contact the plan administrator and any other person maintaining relevant information in connection with premium assistance.
    • A description of the extended election period provided by the legislation.
    • A description of the option to enroll in different coverage, if adopted by the employer.

Plans must also:

    • Send a separate expiration notice to eligible individuals when their periods of premium assistance are due to expire.
    • Notify individuals if their subsidy will end before Sept. 30, 2021, although this notice will not be required if their subsidy is ending due to the individual's eligibility for other coverage.
In addition to providing the required notices, plan sponsors of group health plans should consider whether they will permit individuals to enroll in a different—but not more expensive—plan option than the one in which they were enrolled when coverage was lost. Plan sponsors would have the option to permit this and would need to include the availability of that option in the notices they send out.

Employers will obtain the subsidy, to be passed along to COBRA enrollees, through a payroll tax credit against employers' quarterly taxes. If the credit exceeds the amount of payroll taxes due, the credit would be refundable when employers submit Form 941, their quarterly tax return. The credit could also be advanced under rules that will be set by the Treasury Department.

The premium amount may be advanced by the insurer of a fully insured group health plan or the plan sponsor of a self-funded group health plan, which, in turn, may work through the plan's COBRA third-party administrator.

Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts

The act raises the 2021 contribution limit for Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) to $10,500 for single taxpayers and to $5,250 for married individuals filing separately. The provision raises the exclusion limits for the plan year beginning after December 31,2020 and before January 1, 2022.

Employer Credits for Paid Sick and Family Leave

Extends employer credits to September 30, 2021, for employer-provided paid sick and family leave – established under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

Increases qualified Family Leave covered wages from $10K to $12K per employee.

Increases the number of days of paid leave for self-employed from 50 days to 60.

Expands the paid leave credits, including self-employed individuals, to cover COVID-19 vaccinations or wait times for test results or diagnoses.

Adds employer restrictions on receiving credits if paid leave policies favor highly compensated employees, full-time workers, or employees based on tenure.

Provides for reimbursement of pension plan and apprenticeship program contributions made by employers under a collective bargaining agreement that are allocable to employee paid sick and family leave.

Employee Retention Credit

Extends the employee retention credit through December 31, 2021. The employee retention credit was originally enacted in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, P.L. 116-136, and it allows eligible employers to claim a credit for paying qualified wages to employees.

Expands eligibility for the credit to new startups that were established after Feb. 15, 2020, and companies if their revenue declined by 90% compared to the same calendar quarter of the previous year. The credit is capped at $50,000 per calendar quarter for startups.

Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program

The act also provides $386 million for rapid retraining program to reskill unemployed veterans for high demand jobs or in high-technology programs.

Lastly another important change in the act that employers want to pay attention to is the Modification to the Paycheck Protection Program. This modification increases funding total to a little under $814B. It maintains eligibility for 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(6) organizations. It also expands eligibility to labor organizations, social/recreational clubs, and fraternal benefit societies.

As we know, our laws are constantly changing so you will need to stay on top of the act while monitoring for any changes or additions.


COVID-19 Resources

We've moved our COVID-19 resources to a new location. Click here!

The Sauna

You never know when someone needs help, especially if you don’t ask.

I had the pleasure of making an acquaintance at the gym, Tom, who asked me what I do for a living. “My company helps businesses and their employees”, and then I went on to explain exactly how we help. When he heard that I understand insurance he didn’t hold back, and voiced his frustration about a voluntary accident policy and a claim that wasn’t paying, and as soon as he could drop it he would (stating the policy was junk).

So I started asking more detailed questions - what carrier it was, and his reasoning behind why the claim wasn’t paying. I gathered a little info and looked into it later in the day.

As it turns out, my new friend was filing the wrong form, and instead of the carrier alerting the policyholder of his error, they simply denied it.

Tom brought me the paperwork today, where we will file his new claim properly, and thanked me for helping navigating these complicated waters - the claims process.

Turns out, Tom’s going to get his claim paid, and when it’s all said and done it will pay the equivalent of his policy for the next three years - on a single claim.


Violence Chart

October is dedicated to Domestic Violence Awareness.

Domestic violence touches people all around us, male and female, dating or married, of any age and race. It can include physical, mental, emotional, and/or sexual abuse, as well as economic deprivation. Sadly, domestic abuse is not rare: according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, in the United States, “1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience violence from their partners in their lifetimes”.

And it doesn’t stop there.

Many times, victims of domestic violence don’t tell people what is happening to them, so they are further isolated in their terror. Some signs of domestic violence can include:

• Having unexplained injuries / wearing long sleeves or sunglasses at inappropriate times (to conceal injuries)
• Arriving early or staying late for work
• Appearing fatigued
• Exhibiting fear, anxiety or depression
• Startling easily
• Showing a decrease in productivity
• Taking a lot of unplanned time off

As an outsider, it is easy to say, “Why don’t they just leave”? For many reasons, walking away is not a simple solution. Fear, embarrassment, lack of financial resources, and shame of breaking up their family are just a few of the many reasons that people feel forced to stay in an abusive situation. On average, it takes a victim 7 attempts to leave before staying away for good.

What can you do to help?
• Listen without judgement
• Let them know that you believe them
• Ask what you can do to help—sometimes, the first step to empowering someone to leave a bad situation is simply knowing they have someone they can trust
• Support their decisions—it is critical for the person to regain a sense of control, and they may not be ready to speak to the police
• Encourage them to reach out to the national hotlines for help and guidance
• If you need help figuring out how to support someone else, the National Domestic Violence Hotlinecan assist—it is free and confidential.

Abuse is about power and control, but you can make it stop. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, you do have options. You are not alone, it is not your fault, you are not stuck, and there are people who can help. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit the following websites for more information and resources:

The National Domestic Violence Hotline:
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

- Before You Go PEO.

A Professional Employer Organization, (PEO) provides small companies with payroll processing, benefit administration, insurances, HR training and support. Wait,....sounds a little like our company, FocusHRO. But what's different?

For one, a PEO charges either a flat rate or a percentage of payroll - sometimes as much as $1500 per year per employee. Also, PEO's require "co-employment" - that is, the shared responsibility of the employer. Your team is now employees of the PEO - they're no longer employees of your company.

FocusHRO is designed to help you provide all of the same services while you remain in control, and we think we're also a little more hands on. You'll be hard pressed to find a PEO that's going to stop out and visit, or share concern for which carrier and network your employees have access to. Instead, if the chief PEO decides you're moving carriers, guess what - you're moving carriers.

Take control back of your time and stay in control of your company with FocusHRO. We're ready to help.



- Business in a box. go ahead, open it.

As a business owner, you carry multiple responsibilities on a day to day basis. You are everything from the President, the marketing pro, the bookkeeper, the payroll specialist, the go-to for human resources, the team leader, sales lead, all the way down to the janitor. You are the first one in the office and the last one to leave (and when you do leave you probably go home and "log back in" while trying to juggle your work/life balance.) You are working hard to develop and grow your company to meet increasing customer demands. You are busy. We can help.

FocusHRO's "Business In A Box" was designed specifically for you. If you open the box, you'll find a single outsourcing solution to meet your needs, allowing you to focus on what is most important to you - building your business while maintaining your sanity. Let us handle the heavy lifting on the items that steal your most valuable asset - your time.


- Good country.

Happy Friday everyone! It's time for the #CaseoftheWeek! What a great week it was. We met some amazing people with all types of challenges; everything from finding a cost effective way to offer health plans, streamlining their payroll/accounting services, finding help with HR solutions, and the list goes on and on. We're blessed to have both the opportunity to work with these new people and to have the solutions to help them!

This week's #CaseoftheWeek comes to you from the "good country" south of Carlisle - the same country I put countless miles on my BMX bike when I was a kid. This company restores cars, and they do it better than any show I've seen on TV! After meeting with the owners we learned that they are on a push to attract quality employees through the offering of a rich benefit plan, and they are doing it because they truly care about the people that work hard for them. After a short meeting, we've come up with exactly what they are looking for - a comprehensive plan that removes any gaps in coverage while keeping the employee's cost to a minimum. This, after all, is their wish. They didn't want their employees to find themselves in a difficult position if ever an unfortunate health event takes place. These people put their employees first.

In addition to helping them find the perfect plan, we are putting together a proposal to streamline their payroll and HR, bring their service local, and cutting their costs.
We hope to earn their business as a client, but in the process I feel like we've gained some new friends.

V & V - thank you for sharing your day with us, and for sharing your story and artwork with us. Congratulations for making the #CaseoftheWeek! Well deserved!




- Focushro #innovate

The vision of FocusHRO continues to sharpen with each new conversation with prospects and clients. The need is real for small to medium companies, and we are finding ways to help clients like never before - (remember "Throw away the Rolodex?")

If you follow our Facebook page (please do! you will find a #CaseoftheWeek each Friday, describing both the needs of the company and the solutions we provide. All company names will remain anonymous, but the stories are real - their struggle, and how our model was the answer to their problems.

Want your story to show up on the next #CaseoftheWeek? Contact us today for a meeting - we're looking forward to the opportunity to serve you.


- Throw away the rolodex.

I've worked with small to mid-size businesses for years, and in nearly each instance I was asked, "Do you know someone who can help me with.........." I continued paying close attention to what my clients were asking for, and less attention on the very product or service I was there to solicit in the first place. After all, I was there to help.

The demand continued, and yet there was no clear, single solution that could do nearly everything that was being asked of me - until today. We've listened to you closely and are responding with a new company and platform to serve you - FocusHRO.

We understand how busy you are, and how difficult it can be to keep up with the demands of a growing business. So, we’ve designed a solution encompassing nearly all of the services a business owner could need to successfully operate a business. Performing a thorough diagnosis, we help determine which services can be outsourced locally, all in an effort to help free up time, money, and resources to focus on the business.


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